critical pedagogy (10)


On left (Marianne Williamson, former Democratic leader hopeful in 2020 US election) and right, Jimmy Dore, podcaster (interviewer)- see the whole interview on Youtube "What is Enlightenment? With Marianne Williamson" Sept. 9, 2020.

Why watch or listen to this interview? Many reasons, as children are this fall going back to schools, youth are going to colleges and universities and their teachers are sitting with them on Zoom classes and/or in real face-to-face encounters we as a society like to call "education" (Education). MW is leading to this day and will continue I predict until her leaving this planet, one massive "Education" campaign (and, yes, it is heavily cloaked in "political" symbols, language and her activism as a leader for a healthy and sustainable democracy). She is an educational leader of the rare kind that does not come along very often in human history. That is the point of my bringing her and her work to the surface of public access and for public debate and dialogue. I have dedicated years to study of her work and recent 2020 campaign and now her following-up work before the Nov. 3 Presidential election (probably the most important US Presidential election in that country's history--the results of it will impact the world in powerful ways). With my study I have written and now had published my new book [1]. But my book is not what this blog is about. 

Even take 12 min.'s (less than 1/2 of this interview) into your living room in the next day or two. Dwell with it. If you are a professional educator, take even more time to re-listen to this over a few times. It is not that this particular interview is totally unique from her other thousands of such interviews/speeches/writings--she has a plethora of her 'voice' out there in published form (over 35 years of doing this)--but it is worth pulling out in this interview how she is an "educator" not just of spiritual things (her forte') but of material things--her "holistic" and "systems" perspective on reality, on learning and unlearning, on enlightenment itself, on love, on fear, etc. is all there brief and to the point in this short section of the interview. Not that you ought to agree with it all or anything. I have lots of my own critiques, including in my book--but that also is not the most important thing, I would argue. I am basically saying, it is profound to listen to a leader talk about education (of all people) in a transformative (yes, spiritual-centric) view, on mass social media, and with such clarity and conviction--and, with real answers of how to get through the mulitple cascading crises we face. 

Just a few teasers I pulled out this morning, to share here, and offer as prompts for you to listen to her teaching (some call preaching at times)--are the following: 

(a) the big healing and transformation required individually and collectively, "...won't be easy, and there will be truths we'll try our best to avoid" [2]

(b) we'll go not far in changing only surfaces of society and our crises if we are not "facing the darker Shadow of our past" [3] 

(c) we require a "deeper holistic understanding of what is happening" for "it's an all systems breakdown" [i.e., emergency] and only an "all systems" solution will do [4]

(d) real "understanding" is what our education and socialization processes need to be focused on--priority #1 and we can look to a couple sources to find that understanding (at least)--that is, watch a baby and watch the "big misunderstanding" that our learning systems virtually everywhere perpetrate as 'normal' (as 'truth' as 'reality') [5]

OKAY, that's a sample for you and, oh yes, let's not forget here why I get excited about her teaching about teaching our kids and youth (and everybody)--is because it is near impossible to find present educational and/or world leaders with such futurist, holistic, transformative and depth vision of how to proceed to "educate" ourselves as a species. Once again, it is not the issue of whether she has it all right, and is infallible in her vision, diagnosis and prescriptions--no, that is not my point, and I think she too is open to such critique--but the issue is that someone with such clarity of breadth and depth, spiritual and material, acumen is here and standing out and willing to 'run' for politics and/or to participate so sagaciously in the political sphere--that is remarkable and ought to be supported in and of itself. The world doesn't need MW to be President--necessarily (perhaps in 2024 if she runs again) but the world desires this kind of quality leadership, as I see it. And, let me close with my favorite quote from her intro bit in this interview: 

MW: "We're all so misinformed. From the earliest time in our lives, we are taught such false interpretations of living that we instinctively become more prone to fear...and defensiveness, where natural loving thinking feels unnatural to us, and unnatural fear-based thinking feels natural". 


1. My new book "The Marianne Williamson Presidential Phenomenon: Cultural (R)Evolution in a Dangerous Time" (Peter Lang, Inc., 2020) available later this fall but now ready for online pre-purchase

2. Her educational philosophy is one of 'truthing' as I call it--and, yes, fear as the ruling motivation will guarantee us to not move toward the truth but away from it

3. Shadow, in the Jungian psychotherapeutic sense, is core in her recovery, healing and transformation work, and she believes that what an individual has to go through to heal their 'shadow-side' (unconscious, past, trauma, fear) is to engage shadowork and she believes a nation also has do this; two of the major political pillars that hold together in an unhealthy way the American way of life (at least) are the shadows unexamined, untruthed out, that are coalescing always to keep the systemic racism and militarism in place as the ruling paradigms of how to live and, yes, our educational systems are immediately in commission if not in perpetuation overtly of these pillars and their fear-based structurations

4. Bringing her experience with 12-Step Recovery model of A. A. is one great experience she brings, but she also goes way beyond that model and approach to a more esoterically informed "recovery" and "transformation." As an educator, terms like recovery, restoration, healing, transformation ought to be the core of all curriculum, no matter what the subject matter is that is being taught---and, that will only occur when "Education Faculties" in Universities really take this serious and governments and non-government organizations truly support educators (at university levels, at least) to teach future teachers about these concepts and new paradigms (e.g., a fearlessness paradigm of education--systems theory, critical theory, etc.)--but these are concepts being gutted rapidly out of the universities with the domination of neoliberalism and superficiality over all

5. I (and Ken Wilber) would have differences of conflict philosophically and developmentally with her view of "enlightenment" (way too over simplified and regressively romantic); however, I (and Wilber) would completely support the notion that defining "enlightenment" and giving it a place in educational discourses (all ages)--is crucial to us facing the truth about what it is that is really important in life and education--and the future. Typically, modernist and postmodernist schooling avoids terms like "enlightenment" as if it is the plague. Universities have also grown an allergy to such discussion. Big mistake. 




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So there are many issues I am critical of when any Authority assigns itself to "protect" the people (often, meaning, protect the State power/authority/order): it is political as well as a psychological situation re: our health as citizens. Long ago researchers have shown that "shock doctrine" policies and "crisis" politics is a big power/business construction that is manipulative of people, mainly by using their fear and inserting (more or less) forms of authoritarian propaganda to add to the hypnosis of the moment when people are scared/terrified etc. There is basically a danger of transgressing (excessively) human rights in these situations of declared "emergency state" or "pandemic" etc. See one author who has snooped this out already around the coronavirus...

As critical citizens, we have to be questioning of all Authority, no matter in what situation. One doesn't have to be a conspiracy theorist but one has to be vigilant to oppression that is subtle and systemic--and has been historically used against people's freedoms. For more background on mis-uses of "emergency time" constructions by Authorities and repercussions, see the great book by critical pedagogy Henry A. Giroux (2003). "The Abandoned Generation: Democracy Beyond the Culture of Fear" (NY: Palgrave/Macmillan). 




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Fearlessness is complex enough. Add "fearlessnessnizing" and you get an even more intricate complication. I believe this is absolutely necessary to work our way in and through the nightmarish days we live, and the worse to come as a global reality of crises and tragedies of immense proportions will rain down. We are already there... what we do about it all is another thing and fearlessness and fearlessnessizing everything is really important, so I say and... so says the fearlessness theorizing that has come to me in the decades and most recently in the last two years or less. I introduce you to the currrent writing I have done on fearlessnessizing as a resource.

"Fearlessnessizing" - was budding, preconsciously and intuitively as I wrote the book on Four Arrows' life and work [1], and especially by the end of that book I began writing on it indirectly as Four Arrows and I were invited into another project of co-writing a chapter [2] for the SAGE International Handbook of Critical Pedagogy. I had been spending a lot of time thinking and reading about "Indigenizing" (especially via Four Arrows' perspective on this revitalizing healing transformative concept) but did not include "Fearlessnessizing" in the book on him but did bring it in somewhat alongside Indigenizing to align both with Four Arrows' thought and the burgeoning field (perspective) of Indigenous revitalization across the globe.

What would it mean to (re-)Indigenize modern societies? And, for me, that came to be: What would it mean to (re-)Fearlessnessize modern societies? It was an analogy I found very useful but have not at all developed in detail yet. 

"Fearlessnessizing" however, has continued to stay a live with me since 2017 early intuitions and then with the writing of articles with Four Arrows in 2018 forward. In the recent issue (Vol. 1(2)) of the International Journal of Fear Studies, I gave it a simple definition and officially recorded it as part of a "New Fear Vocabulary" [Fisher et al., 2019, p. 13] : 

fearlessnessizing[coined by RMF] the process of deconstructing fear-based realities and structures and replacing them with fearlessness-based ones; analogous to indigenizing [3]

See also some writing on this concept in a recent technical paper on "fearlessness psychology" I am developing (Fisher, 2019) [4]

So, that definition, preliminary as it is, has a long history that goes back to the prophetic visionary experience I had with Catherine in the birthing of the In Search of Fearlessness (ISOF) Project (1989), a project (spiritual, philosophical and political) that was meant to counter the dominating hegemony of the Fear Project [5]. In a sense, that very counter-hegemonic 'turn' I was introducing formally to the planetary conciousness was itself a fearlessnessizing of everything. It's hard to even imagine that. The fear-based paradigm was to become eventually a fearlessness paradigm [6] and so on. I was on this grand project to re-make and re-label the world--so to speak. I know that sounds all rather grandiose. And, so is Indigenizing the world. 

Besides the ISOF Project and the Indigenizing project, there was a prior influence in my educational (re-)evolution tracing back to the Critical Tradition coming out of (mainly) Europe with the Critical Theory [Frankfurt] School and with many parallels the Liberation Theology (South American) resistance movements, of which the latter produce a very powerful line of Critical Pedagogy of which Paulo Freire made popular around the world and still ongoing. The key term I related to in Freire's writings was conscientization as a form of describing liberation process/work and its deconstruction and reconstruction of oppression. So, in that sense, I was attracted to how liberation (conscientization) was a type of fearlessnessizing as well, even though I did not call it that in the late 1970s when I studied that tradition in my education degree. Conscientizing, indigenizing, Fearlessnessizing all made a lot of sense to me. In 2017 I wrote a short piece on the FM ning [7] mentioning my interest to re-vise Freirean conscientization to Jacobsian conscientization (a la Four Arrows)--of which this was elaborated in the Fisher & Four Arrows, in press) article about to appear in the SAGE critical pedagogy handbook mentioned above. 



1. Fisher, R. M. (2018). Fearless engagement of Four Arrows: The true story of an Indigenous-based social transformer. NY: Peter Lang.

2. Fisher, R. M., and Four Arrows (Jacobs, D. T.) (in press). Indigenizing conscientization and critical pedagogy: Nature, Spirit and Fearlessness as foundational concepts. In S. Steinberg & B. Down (Eds.), Sage Handbook of Critical Pedagogies (Vol.1) (pp.   ). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage.

3. Fisher, R. M. et al. (2019). New Fear vocabulary. International Journal of Fear Studies, 1(2), 10-14.

4. Fisher, R. M. (2019). Fearlessness psychology: An introduction. Technical Paper No. 79. Calgary, AB: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.

5. See for e.g., Fisher, R. M. (2018). The Fearlessness Movement: Meta-context exposed! Technical Paper No. 72. Calgary, AB: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute.

6. See for e.g., Fisher, R. M. (2013). Fearlessness paradigm meets Bracha Ettinger's matrixial theory. Technical Paper No. 46. Carbondale, IL: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute; Fisher, R.M. (2006). Integral fearlessness paradigm. Technical Paper No. 20. Vancouver, BC: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute; Fisher, R.M. (1995). An introduction to an epistemology of 'fear'; A fearlessness paradigm. Technical Paper No. 2. Calgary, AB: In Search of Fearlessness Research Institute. 

7. See my (2017) photo; and, also see my (2015) 'mapping' (photo) of critical pedagogies and locating Jacobsian critical pedagogy and conscientization as an Indigenous addition to the traditions of critical pedagogies




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I'm delighted to share with you a post-adult 45 yrs RMF 2019.pdf from a book on Integral Theory and Educational Research. This chapter overviews my 45 years learning/teaching career, my notion of post-adult education and more. There is one section (pp. 350) that I especially draw your attention to--which I'll quote in an excerpt here: 

"I was attempting then (and still am) to create an entirely new second-tier curriculum of fear education ..."  

"The leap was from a fear-based structure... to one that is no longer driven by fear as the primary motivator..." 

"I called a fearlessness curriculum and pedagogy where the very notion of 'critical thinking' and 'critical theory' needed to be deconstructed and reconstructed..." (p. 350)



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Fisher's Four Paradigms: Human Condition

This Figure is my latest mapping of my own evolution of thought, philosophizing and theorizing about Love and Fear ... and, right to my latest version (Trialectic-Upgrade) which has emerged from my reading of Moreno's (1971/77) book (see my blog below). This has been 30 years of thinking critically about how to understand the "Human Condition" (and, concomitantly, how to understand "Human Nature" and "Human Potential"). I am convinced that without a good understanding of these relationships, there will be ineffective paradigms created for "managing" humankind and our future--especially, when we take into account the nature and role of Fear. Philosophy of Fearism (a la Subba) and Philosophy of Fearlessness (a la Fisher) and Philosophy of Fear (a la Eneyo etc.) ought to be very engaged with these four paradigms and/or adding more--around this deep search for understanding the primary forces of human meta-motivation. 

Of course, I am only giving you the barest skeletal diagrams here, as a small book could be written on describing the ontological details, rationale and potential applications  for each of these models and why they have evolved in my own thinking---and, I would argue they are each one an improvement upon the prior paradigm--a kind of evolutionary maturity is shown. For a general understanding of my own intellectual critique and evolution of the first 3 paradigms go to Fisher 2017 Radical Love.pdf" as it is an article published in the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy. 


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Carl Leggo, Ruminating on Love and Schools

A colleague at the University of British Columbia invited me to visit his doctoral seminar on February 14, 2018. Questions had been asked about the role of love in schools. My colleague remembered that I had written at least a few articles about love and schools. An invitation to speak about love on Valentine’s Day was a delightful treat. Prior to my visit I asked the class to read my article “Living Love: Confessions of a fearful teacher (2011). In this article I address Michael Fisher’s thoughtful and inspiring work on fearlessness and love:

I lean into the strong words of Fisher’s writing. I am glad he is calling out his erudite and energetic vision for an education of fearlessness. He knows that “Perfect Love, like perfect non-violence (i.e., non-revenge, non-hate, non-ego) is a highly demanding ethic and consciousness to attain” (pp. 161-162), but he sustains the hope that “if we look and trust radically and deeply enough” (p. 191), we can replace the “Law of Fear” with the “Law of Love” (p. xii). This is a timely and complex vision for education in our globalized and cosmopolitan world. (p. 127)

A day or so before the class, I received an email message from one student in the doctoral seminar. I have met the student a few times, and he always impresses me as theoretically sophisticated, insightfully rigorous, and thoughtfully dedicated to asking big questions about urgent issues of education and human becoming. He especially raised questions about the notion of “Perfect Love” and whether or not it is attainable. He expressed his clear concern that “Perfect Love” is simply not attainable. I was struck by the difficulty of language in discussing love.

In the seminar I shared anecdotes and ruminations about love and schools. And I distributed a list of several quotations I have been mulling over, including the following:

hooks, bell. (2013). Writing beyond race: Living theory and practice. New York, NY: Routledge.

“When describing the political system that we live within here in the United States, more often than not, I use the complicated phrase imperialist white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. This phrase is useful precisely because it does not prioritize one system over another but rather offers us a way to think about the interlocking systems that work together to uphold and maintain cultures of domination” (p. 4).

“As we move away from dominator culture towards a liberatory culture where partnership and mutuality are valued we create a culture wherein we can all learn to love. There can be no love where there is domination. And anytime we do the work of love we are doing the work of ending domination” (p. 37).

hooks promotes: “education for critical consciousness that re-shapes thought and action” (p. 185)

Kogawa, Joy. (2016). Gently to Nagasaki. Halfmoon Bay, BC: Caitlin Press.

“For my part, I hold with a fierce and painful joy my trust in a Love that is more real than we are” (p. 42).

“The life of which I was a part, my family’s life, my community’s life, everything that was done to any of us or by any of us—everything—all the good, all the evil, all the shame, all the secrets, all the kindness, all the sorrow, all all all, was fully known. A tide within me surged forth and I acknowledged the Knowing as the Presence of Love” (p. 70).

Finney, Sandra, & Sagal, Jane Thurgood. (2017). The way of the teacher: A path for personal growth and professional fulfillment. Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield.

“The profession of teaching is one that calls us to be lovers of wisdom, to love learning new things, to more deeply understand old ideas we hold, and to ignite this spark of curiosity and wonder in our students” (p. 107).

Heller, Chaia. (1999). Ecology of everyday life: Rethinking the desire for nature. Montreal, PQ: Black Rose Books.

“In love, there is a paradox. In order to know and understand that which we love, we must first know ourselves. We must engage in a continual process of becoming conscious of our own beliefs, prejudices, and desires if we are to truly see that which we love. When we fail to know ourselves in this way, the beloved can be nothing more than a projection of our own desires, a projection that obstructs our vision of the desires, history, and distinctiveness of those we love” (p. 35).

Nonnekes, Paul. (2001). Three moments of Love in Leonard Cohen & Bruce Cockburn. Montreal, PQ: Black Rose Books.

“Structures of love are created not through the fixing of desire in secure borders and boundaries, but through establishing frameworks of intersubjectivity, the activity of subjects reciprocally recognizing each other’s independence and freedom, recognizing each other’s difference, establishing a big space for the entertaining of diversity” (p. 174-175).

Taylor, Barbara Brown. (2009). An altar in the world: A geography of faith. New York, NY: HarperCollins.

“…the hardest spiritual work in the world is to love the neighbour as the self…” (p. 93).

In the course of my conversation with the seminar participants, I asked, How can we learn to live with one another in our diversity? That has always been one of my main commitments as an educator—learning to live with the other, with one another, with others, with myself in relation to all the others who are not me. What does it mean to experience Perfect Love in relation to all the others I know as you?

I don’t think the participants in the seminar were ready to take up the kinds of issues and questions I offered. Conversations about love are messy! I drew the class visit to a close with a recent poem, full of memories of my brother.

Apple Tree

growing up on Lynch’s Lane

my brother and I always loved

fall when apples sparkled

on Old Viv Drover’s tree

and we slipped over the fence

from Cec’s backyard to stuff

our pockets full of apples like

sour stones after a season

too short for anything but

potatoes carrots turnips

but we still stole the apples

because they hung on a tree free

ate a few and threw the rest

like grenades in the war games

we fought constantly like

democracy depended on our defiance

slipping over the fence in October

dark like we were winding through

barbed wire on the Berlin wall

intent on espionage and escape


last August I remembered the raids

on Old Viv Drover’s apple tree

while standing in the backyard

of my brother’s house in Mt. Pearl

outside St. John’s Newfoundland

where an unlikely apple tree stood

in the corner because my brother’s

six-year-old grandson suggested

with infectious hope they plant

an apple tree since an apple a day

will keep the doctor away but no

apples could battle cancer and on

the day of my brother’s funeral

he and I are still sneaking over

the fence in the cool dark autumn

evening to steal the last apples

on Old Viv Drover’s tree bulldozed

decades ago for an arterial highway

even though the apples still taste

hard sour stomach-slaking as always



Leggo, C. (2011). Living love: Confessions of a fearful teacher. JCACS (Journal of

     the Canadian Association for Curriculum Studies), 9(1), pp. 115-144.


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The following article, just published in the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy (2017), I wrote as a critique of "radical love" (a la Paulo Freire) in critical pedagogy. It is entitled: "Radical Love: Is It Radical Enough?".

I introduce the dualistic (and sometimes) dialectical theory of Love vs. Fear and how Fearlessness is essential to the dialectic (even a trialectic) to make it effective in the current meta-context of the "culture of fear." Hope you enjoy it, and feel free to send me any comments [r.michaelfisher52 [at] gmail [dot] com.


In near 2 years since my article was published, no one has made a peep about it. Which is too bad, I'm not impressed with critical pedagogues in that sense of being so silent. Anyways, one of my colleagues from my UBC days, a bright younger scholar, Dr. Kent denHeyer, Prof. of Education, at UofA in Edmonton, responded having recently read my article in IJCP (2017). He wrote me, 

"i liked very much your review of radical love. i think you are correct that without a critical examination of the dyad [Love and Fear] as you identify, we are working with one leg."
Mar. 11/19
[years later, another comment from a philosophical colleague:] 

Michael, there are two critical points for me in your text, they might seem obvious to you: first the opposition love-fear; is fear the opposite of love? I doubt. Of course it is one of them and I understand that in your framework it should be and it is but I think by privileging fear your leave aside so many other important dimensions; the second is that every time when someone says about anything  something like "it should be treated this way" thinking suffers... it might be fearanalysis or whatever... of course in this case it is only needed accepting and following your assumptions but many other roads might be walked so I prefer to stay aside when someone says "you cannot approach this issue if you do not take this road"... just two maybe superficial comments and sorry I will not be able to follow this discussion...

regards, WK Feb. 10/21

Dear WK, 

Your cautionary taken. Appreciated. Perhaps another time when you have space, we can go further. Just to be clear, a careful reading of my thesis will show "privileging fear" is NOT what my work is about period! I construct a systematic Fearlessness Paradigm (a whole other ball game)... 



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I have been re-reading Paulo Freire on "critical pedagogy" lately, as I was into it in my early 30s. I never leave this radical liberation model of education, of teaching and learning, with the "oppressed" in mind. And the oppressed, for Paulo Freire included the 'oppressors' as well because they are the worst case in being oppressed themselves by say "patriarchy" or any other name you want to give to the 'big bad problem' of domination-subordination (master-slave) relationality. I mean "worst case" because they are "blinded" by their power/privilege and thus enabled to "deny" they are oppressors and oppressed. They cause the worst damage to the whole system, not the typically identifiable "oppressed" and marginalized with very limited power/privilege in a society.

Finding A Fearlessness Center Again

I have an article about to come out soon in the International Journal of Critical Pedagogy (Spring, 2017) on some of my challenges to the critical pedagogy schools of thought and discourse in regard to how they have not really gone after the big bad problem of oppression in the way I think they need to. That is, the schools of critical philosophy, critical theory and critical pedagogy have largely ignored (or only very partially) addressed the Fear Problem (which, I am also calling many other things, but an interesting term of late is "paranoiaic paradigm" that has to be addressed). Or, as I wish to put it on this blogpost, these schools of thought and education, of which Four Arrows (aka Don Trent Jacobs) is also very critical of and yet also applauds, have ignored the 'loss of a center' in the sense of loss of 'sanity' and an ethical reference point for it --by which he and I  mean a "Fearlessness Center." Yes, there has always been a Fearlessness center or core foundation of all living systems, Natural, Cultural and Spiritual--at least, so the theory goes. He uses the Indigenous worldview as his basis for re-finding that 'Center' and I use many traditions of thought, basically under the rubric of the Fearlessness Movement. We are going to produce a lot more systematic work on this in the years to come.

I am going to post one of Four Arrows' fascinating early diagrams (1998), CAT-FAWN Connection, attempting a holistic model to show the need for a "Center(edness)" in all curriculum, that can call itself ethical and/or liberational (see below). Lot's more to be discussed of course, as this model isn't totally self explainable nor is the "Fearlessness Center" he and I are now writing about in various ways and it will show up in our new book in 2018 Fearless Engagement (Peter Lang Publishers). Anyways, something to think about.

Reference: Jacobs, D. T. (1998). Primal Awareness: A True Story of Survival, Transformation, and Awakening with the Raramuri Shamans of Mexico. Rochester, VT: Inner Traditions.

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I have just downloaded a long article "Educators, We Have a Culture of Fear Problem," one of my best (imo) in terms of a relatively complete analysis of the domain of how a culture of fear has penetrated the field of Education all the way up and down the spectrum right up to academia itself, at  (scroll down to Yellow Papers).

I have included the Abstract of this paper below. I look forward to talking with you on this after you have read it (in part, or whole). I cannot think of a more important topic on the planet that we should be talking about and taking actions on in order to transform this society ASAP. But, then, that's just my view--although, the culture of fear and education topic is my expertise. Btw, this article was submitted to an academic journal in the field of Education and rejected by both reviewers (on not very stable grounds) and so I decided to add the reviewers criticisms of the paper in the paper itself (at the end) with my fresh comments of critique of their critiques--so, that might be interesting for you to read. -enjoy, M.



The author argues that a focused universal agenda for educators to critically assess is the human Fear Problem (i.e., “culture of fear”). It could serve as a useful and ethical meta-context to rally around for a thoroughgoing new reference point by which to design healthy and emancipatory educational global systems. This is the first publication in Educational literature to summarize the status of discourses using the culture of fear construct. The author briefly tracks out his 26 year journey studying this topic and its relationship to Education and social policy in their widest global sense. He documents and critiques some current conventional liberal reductionist discourses on fear and education, as well as the arising interest in writing about the culture of fear construct and reality (from 1990- to date). Based on cross-disciplinary literature surveys, a basic definition of culture of fear is offered that is unique to the otherwise ubiquitous nebulous definitions of others. The article asserts it is now near impossible, and certainly naive, to mention and/or study fear without including the necessary, if not universal, meta-context of the culture of fear. Without such a context, fear will be reduced to a largely ‘value-neutral’ psychological discourse and phenomena instead of a cultural and political one. He offers several suggestions for resistance amongst the educational community to adopt the culture of fear in critical pedagogy and Education in general. Concluding remarks offer recommendations to resist that resistance and pursue proactive means to improve our critical understanding of the nature and role of fear, and the culture of fear in Education and civilization-at-large.

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My View on Social Movements

After many prompts from dialogues with my daughter, with Barbara and others, and listening to some interviews on the radio, it seems I ought to put down some thoughts on my views about social movements (including environmental movements). After all, the Fearlessness Movement is my own term for many movements that I have recorded historically across cultures, that work to move the world from Fear to Fearlessness. 

Although I consider myself an activist-educator at heart, I am many other things too. I cannot dismiss there are other social/environmental movements also going on now, and have been throughout history. I cannot suggest they are of lesser importance in the liberation of consciousness and that they have no important role to play in achieving a better quality of life for all beings. That said, I am discerning, and have learned to be so after near 64 years on this planet. I am a social movement watcher and have also participated in several movements, from the environmental movement to the various human potential and new age movements to the critical education movements that have attempted to transform Education on this planet. Once I even joined a political party, but not for long. 

Yes, politics is part of everything I am interested in. Social movements, OLD (like Marxism) and NEW (like Black Lives Matter), it doesn't matter the topic of their content and lobbying, there is always a point of where I discern how much I want to be involved in these movements. I am rarely asked to be part of them or to consult to them. I'd love to do a lot more of that. The point of this short blog is to summarize how I have come to understand it is best for me to align and/or critique such movements. Btw, if you haven't noticed, or don't know my work that well, it is typical that I tend to 'go after' and critique the hypocrisy of 'my side' of the political spectrum rather than go after the obvious enemies that have their hypocrisy too. It is the obvious enemies that so many others are criticizing that I have not felt I need to join them (e.g., the Leftist criticizing the Rightists)-- on and on. No, I prefer to 'go after' my-side, my own kindred types and critique everything they do that I find hypocritical, contradictory to their mission, and sometimes just down right unnecessarily fear-based and violent. 

So, now you have some sense of where I spend most of my energy in my critiques of social/environmental movements... I critique those that are closest in philosophy to mine, and those that espouse the very best liberational ideas that I would ally with--however, my allyship is not without discernment and critique. I often introduce myself to those movements with a desire to help them--and, then I critique them. I challenge what I see is inconsistent with their mission as stated, officially or not. As Barbara says, "This doesn't go over so well." Because they want supporters and allies alright, they want their numbers to get larger, their funding to grow, so they can be more effective achieving their goals or even defeating their enemies. I see that practical need. However, that's not how I want to be part of helping any movement, including the FM. 

So, you can see I quickly get labeled a pariah in many of these movements I come in contact with. They are more interested in advocacy (lobbying) than inquiry--and that's where I have to draw the line when those two forms become too overly weighted--on one side or the other. I look for a 'balance' in operations and philosophies in any healthy and sustainable movement. I think politics can only be really "useful" to the many when it has that balance of advocacy and inquiry--and all that comes down to what i think I can best offer these movements (e.g., the current men's movement battling feminists, and visa versa, of which Vanessa and some other colleagues of mine are involved with now)--it comes down to HOW they do their movement--meaning, how they do critical praxis. That is, how do they use theory, and practice, to combine in a critical consciousness that is an ongoing self-reflexivity to make sure they are not reproducing the very same symptoms (e.g., violences of oppression) that they declare they formed to be against. 

This last sentence is worth re-reading. 

I am a critical pedagogue, cultural critic, and curriculum designer and consultant by profession, and by choice of vocation. I support social/environmental movements pretty much just because they exist and want to improve the world--now, whether I like their agendas or not, they have a right to put them out on the table of any healthy democracy. That's my initial thought anyways... then, they also need to be responsible for the reactions they bring upon themselves. I will help any movement deal with that 'backlash' phenomenon, if they want my help, of course. And mostly, I will look to see how fear-based perceptions, thinking and actions may be undermining the movement. Fact is, fear-based conflict has ruined just about every good movement there is on this planet--to be dramatic in my generalization. 

Indeed, conflict within rips them apart. I was just listening to an interview on NPR radio, on a documentary film-maker talking about his 7 year study and filming around the historical Black Panther Movement in the USA and around the world in the 60s-70s especially. I think that was such a cool movement, as their goal was to monitor and prevent police force and military interventions into civil society (especially involving people of color)... today, this is still going on as a major concern of the Black Lives Matter movement. In this interview, Stanley Nelson told how he discovered that the reason the Black Panthers fell apart after some years and have not reformed well is because of the interior conflict in leaders. And, I don't doubt it at all. The In Search of Fearlessness Project in Calgary, AB that I co-founded in 1989 broke up after a decade also because of rifts within. Now, Nelson also says that the riffs were fanned by the FBI and other forms of oppressive agencies and forces that added to the conflict that couldn't be resolved within the organizations. In my masters degree, after ISOF Project (Calgary) fell apart, I went to study New Social Movements (NSMs), because I realized ISOF was one in fact. I was its main leader. So, there was a lot of interest on my part to find out what happens in the birth and death of NSMs as they are called by sociologists today. 

In my graduate research in 1998-2000 I started by examining the feminist movement and what happened, why it was largely gutted by the 1990s. Time and time again, feminist commentators on the movement, as academics, and as participants, recall the inner-organizational conflict--splits in agendas, and power that corrupted. They also mention that those inner conflicts were flamed by agitators outside the movements (and anti-movements contributed as well). Oppression dynamics work that way-- you are in an organization and think that you are liberating yourselves until you look hard enough, one day, and see that the efforts at liberation are being distorted into fear-based patterns, curriculum, agendas and practices that oppress the very organization itself--and all the members in it, more or less. I was furious to watch this happen in ISOF (Calgary) and not be able to stop it, turn it around-- even though I worked for years to get the community to see what it was doing in some of its behaviors (e.g., internalized oppression). 

Turns out, all Old and NSMs have this problem, as just about any organization of people--right down to families as institutions or even relationships with an intimate other. Yes, that's why I have made a systematic study of conflict and fear. I trust you will remember that is my expertise. I also know, it doesn't mean much for me to say it, if you don't get it, or simply haven't studied my work enough to make a discernment.

So, in FM ning, it behooves us as a liberation movement to likewise question HOW we are operating as an online community--and to develop a critical praxis that demands ethically that we are not operating as individuals or as sub-groups, or as a whole, with a fear-based structuration--otherwise, the entire Fearlessness Movement ning means nothing--nothing liberational, that is! 

There's some grist for the mill... 

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